Ice conditions in northwestern Canada unusual this year, snowmobile association says

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Yukon RCMP reminded people that not all waterways are frozen, after a snowmobiler went through the ice on Drury Lake, west of Faro, last week. (Submitted by Yukon RCMP)
Yukon’s Klondike Snowmobile Association is urging people to be cautious and well-prepared when they head into the backcountry, saying ice conditions are a bit unpredictable this winter.

“This year especially there’s been lots of reports of thin ice and open water in places where there hasn’t been in previous years,” said James Connor, a board member with the association.

Last week, two snowmobilers went through the ice on Drury Lake, near Faro, Yukon. One of them managed to safely escape from the water, but the other man is presumed drowned.

RCMP have warned people to be cautious on Yukon waterways, saying not all of them are frozen.

Connor says it’s essential for anybody travelling in the backcountry to have good survival gear — such as clothes, first aid supplies, ice safety picks, and a GPS unit. A floating snowmobile suit is also an option.

“It’s all about what you want to do, and how often you do it. You can go and sort of buy the gear that matches what you’re doing,” he said.

Snowmobilers should plan ahead, research conditions, and let someone know about their plans before heading into the backcountry, says the Klondike Snowmobile Association. (Shutterstock)

It’s also important to plan ahead, and know where you’re going, he says.

“In the Yukon backcountry there’s so many things that can go wrong — you have to be ready for basically anything, so there’s a lot of people that just go into places and travel at speeds they’re just not prepared for,” he said.

“A lot of it is, people get excited and they just, you know, they see somewhere they want to go and they’ll just go there without doing their homework on it.”

Connor also urges people to always tell someone about their plans before they set out — so someone knows where you’re going, when you’re expected back, and what to do if you don’t return on time. Specifics are good, Connor says, but people should also know about any alternative routes you may take.

“So … if you’re not where you said you’re going to be, they have an idea where to look next.”

With files from Sandi Coleman

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Northwestern Canada: Yukon gov gives up on building Dawson City ice bridge, CBC News

Finland: Cold winter brings out Finland’s icebreakers ahead of schedule, Yle News

Sweden: Avalanche warning to snowmobilers in Swedish mountains, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska’s Cold War radars face new threat from climate change, Alaska Public Media

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